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#13 UK Hoops vs. Colorado: Preview and Gamethread

It's been a great weekend to be a Wildcat in Lexington: Men's Basketball, Football, and Rifle all have victories. Can UK Hoops help make it a clean sweep?

The Wildcat may be tired from all those pushups last night, but will still be at Memorial to cheer on the Cats!
The Wildcat may be tired from all those pushups last night, but will still be at Memorial to cheer on the Cats!
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

A triple double is a rare thing in basketball. It's so rare that in the long and storied history of Kentucky Men's Basketball, exactly one Wildcat has a triple-double in the books. The women's team had their lone triple double recorded in 1986.

Makayla Epps doubled that number for the ladies Wednesday night against Morehead State. The pre-season All SEC junior ended the game with 21 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists. Alexis Jennings (28 points, 13 rebounds) and Evelyn Akhator (12 points 16 rebounds) had double-doubles, and Janee Thompson was one assist shy of joining them.

Impressive numbers. The most impressive among them being 32 assists for the team, which speaks volumes on how this squad has bought into the concept of being their sister's keeper. Makayla summed it up well in the post-game presser, saying "We trust in each other. This team probably trusts in each other more than any of the teams I've been on since I've been here. We all have faith in one another. Everybody is a facilitator."

The much-ballyhooed early season transfers have had some serious impact on the squad, but somehow Matthew Mitchell's Wildcats have turned it to their advantage. Alexis Jennings agrees, saying "The amount of adversity that we have had to face draws us a lot closer and it shows up on the court and at practice and in the way we act around each other...We all genuinely care for each other and we just want to make each other better. If it takes giving up the ball from your own shot then that's just what you have to do in order for someone else to be successful."

If THAT doesn't get you excited to watch these Cats, you should probably turn in your fan card. Happily, we still have a lot of games yet to go in which to enjoy this group...which brings us to today's 2 PM EST tussle with Colorado.

Colorado arrives in Lexington looking to extend their undefeated record, having recorded solid wins against Loyola-Marymount and Northern Colorado. Players to watch include senior guard Jamee Swan, who currently leads the team in overall scoring and averages 13.5 points per game. The Buffaloes have 3 players averaging in double digits, including Zoe Beard-Fails, who is tied with Swan on both average rebounds per game (7) and free-throw shooting (78%). Overall Colorado is a very good shooting squad, hitting 47% from the field 40% from three-point range and  76% from the charity stripe.

I'm anticipating another fast-paced and up tempo game today, so our keys to victory are going to sound pretty familiar:

  • Effective ball control: The Cats were much better in handling the ball against Morehead State, but they will not hold the height advantage tonight. I'd love to see their turnover numbers continuing to drop, with no player recording more than 2 per game.
  • Lethal defense: Defensively, the Cats continue to be aggressive in challenging their opposition. Morehead had their pockets picked 14 times, with Janee and Taylor Murray each recording recording 4 steals. Rebounding continues to be a strength, led mostly by Evelyn and Alexis.
  • Play smart - NO MORE INJURIES: Evelyn was cleared to play Thursday after rolling her ankle in Wednesday's game. Kyvin Goodin Rogers will not be available today as she continues to heal from a concussion.  Alyssa Rice is still in that boot with her stress reaction. I'm still really looking forward to that magical day when we have no injuries to report.
  • BBN's presence in Memorial: Colorado plays in front of tiny crowds....less than 3k per game. An off-night at Memorial still has 4-5k in the stands. After such a great weekend for UK Athletics, I'm anticipating a solid block of blue and white supporters ready to cheer their Cats on. That's good for at least 5-6 more baskets than on the road.

Today's game isn't televised - grrrrr - but you can catch all the action via the WatchESPN app/ OR you can tune in to hear the always awesome Neil Price calling every play on 630 WLAP either via radio or iHeart.

Until tipoff, Cat fans - GO BIG BLUE!